Conservation steward challenge: Which endangered species should we intervene to save?

HW akiki chickfeed
New Zealand's endangered Akiki birds. Image credit: San Diego Zoo

[O]ur role as stewards of the earth is becoming more and more like that of doctors in a global intensive-care unit, trapped in a cycle of heroic, end-of-life measures. Many conservationists now operate in a state of constant maintenance: endlessly working to weed out invasive plants and predators, while trying to prop up species that have fallen into decline.

In short, it’s fair to ask why, exactly, biodiversity matters. As [ecologist Chris] Thomas says: “Even if we were to lose 10 percent of all species in the next hundred years, would biology stop?”

Given how radically we’ve already altered the landscape, how bad would it be if we just kept doing what we’re doing: paving the land, overfishing the oceans and letting the chips fall where they may?

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Whether we regard conservation as an ethical or an economic issue, we’re still faced with the question of how we decide what to save.

[T]he conservation movement would have to undergo a profound shift — away from triage mode and toward a more coherent and deliberate plan for global conservation. And such a shift would most likely require more resources and more political support than currently exist. The question is whether it will happen in time to shelter us from some of the more significant changes that climate change and development are likely to bring.

Read full, original post: Should Some Species Be Allowed to Die Out?

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